STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23JV-18-189]
HONORABLE TROY B. BRASWELL, JR., JUDGE.
G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE.
Faulkner County Circuit Court adjudicated appellant K.F.
delinquent after finding that she had committed the offense
of endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree as
an accomplice. On appeal, K.F. argues that the circuit court
erred in premising her criminal culpability on her status as
an accomplice, raising two subpoints: (1) she was not in the
class of persons who could statutorily commit the offense of
endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree; and
(2) she did not solicit, advise, encourage, or coerce another
person to commit the offense of endangerment, nor did she
aid, agree to aid, or attempt to aid another person in
planning or committing the offense of endangerment.
Additionally, K.F. contends that there was insufficient
evidence to support the delinquency adjudication. We find
merit in her first argument on appeal, and we reverse and
Watkins is the mother of one-year-old K.W. Watkins hired
K.F.'s sister, MaKayla Brewster, to babysit K.W. in
Watkins's home. Despite the original plan, Watkins agreed
that MaKayla would provide the babysitting duties in
MaKayla's home. K.F. and another friend, T.M., were at
MaKayla's house while MaKayla was in charge of the child.
While MaKayla was supervising K.W., T.M. posted a video to
her Snapchat account depicting two scenes. In the first
scene, K.F. is activating a taser or stun-gun device near
K.W. while the baby is lying on a bed. Although the video
never actually shows the device touching the baby, the audio
portion reflects that K.W. is crying. MaKayla is not seen in
this scene until the very end when she approaches K.W., who
is still lying on the bed. In the second scene, MaKayla is
depicted slapping K.W. on the head. K.F. is not present in
the second scene, although T.M. could be heard laughing and
saying, "do it again." The Conway Police Department
investigated the incident, and they obtained as evidence a
"Cheetah Cyclone" stun gun from K.F.'s mother.
was subsequently charged with endangering the welfare of a
minor in the first degree. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-27-205(a)(1) (Repl. 2013). The juvenile division of the
Faulkner County Circuit Court held an adjudication hearing.
After hearing testimony and viewing the Snapchat video, the
court adjudicated K.F. delinquent as an accomplice to the
offense. K.F. timely appealed.
Standard of Review
appeal, K.F. contends that she was not liable as an
accomplice. She frames the issue as "whether, under the
language of the controlling criminal statutes, K.F. could be
liable as an accomplice when she was not within the class of
persons who could commit the underlying offense of
endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree and
she was the person who committed the act alleged to have
endangered the minor." Our analysis therefore requires
us to construe the language of both Arkansas Code Annotated
section 5-27-205-the endangerment statute-and Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-2-403 (Repl. 2013)-the statute providing
for accomplice liability.
considering the meaning and effect of a statute, we first
construe it just as it reads, giving the words their ordinary
and usually accepted meaning in common language. Magness
v. State, 2012 Ark. 16, 386 S.W.3d 390. When the
language is plain and unambiguous, we will not resort to
rules of statutory construction, and the analysis need go no
further. Id. We review issues of statutory
interpretation de novo because it is for this court to decide
what a statute means. Id. When dealing with a penal
statute, this court strictly construes the statute in favor
of the party sought to be penalized. Holcomb v.
State, 2014 Ark. 141, 432 S.W.3d 600.
Endangering the Welfare of a Minor
begin our statutory analysis by examining the plain language
of the endangerment statute. A person commits the offense of
endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree if,
being a parent, guardian, person legally charged with care or
custody of a minor, or a person charged with supervision of a
minor, he or she purposely engages in conduct creating a
substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to a
minor. Ark. Code Ann. ...